Spell 125 by Papillon Perfumes

Notes: Siberian Pine, Black Hemlock, Ylang-Ylang, Green Sacra and White Ambergris.

In line with its superstitious inspiration, this seventh anniversary Papillon perfume will be launched on the 7th day of the 7th month of this year. So just one week to wait.

Liz Moores has created a carefully curated collection of fragrances. Each earns its place by being her own take on a classic theme from a green chypre to a furry vanilla.

Spell 125 particularly intrigued me because it circles back to Liz’s first work, Anubis, albeit spinning off in a different direction.

Truth be told, while I admired Anubis, its sticky, tarry leather was not really my style. Therefore I was intensely interested to see how Spell 125 would work for me.

In the Book of the Dead, Spell 125 details ‘the weighing of the human heart’ ceremony overseen by the god Anubis. The perfume incarnation of Spell 125 represents this by creating tension between its contrasting facets; mirroring the weighing of the heart’s sins against its purity. Ethereal Green Sacra frankincense and Siberian pine are pulled downwards by the earthbound black hemlock and white ambergris.

The opening is a whoosh of pine needles and citrus peel. I love pine but the accents of lime and mandarin should assuage anyone who is less of a fan. In any case, it recedes quickly after that first jolt to the system. What’s revealed is a stark olfactory vista of smoldering ash with an undercurrent of something distinctly feral – the pine trees still visible, but at a distance.

The billowy smoke is like that released by a booklet of incense papers slowly being devoured by a stealthy flame, one page at a time, releasing its vapor into the air.  It has a mineral quality that is much quieter and more reverent than many incense fragrances but because of its weighty base, it also has more depth.

I find Spell 125’s palette of grey ash, green pine and white ambergris to be  striking in its sparseness. The coniferous, smoky and musky tones meld together effortlessly bringing together vegetable, mineral and animal.

The base however, is all about the animal with the musky aroma of ambergris taking over now the spirit has broken free. This is a perfume without extraneous ornamentation so there is no sweet amber or soft woods to make it more obliging.

It’s hard to convey just how atmospheric this perfume is. There is a hushed tone to it that adds to the transporting, ceremonial mood. Where Anubis is thick and oily, Spell 125 is airy and resinous.

It veers away from the traditional perfumery territory inhabited by previous Papillon releases and leads the wearer to a place seemingly outside of time and space, as if forged in a primordial soup of earth, water, wind and fire, it is arrestingly elemental.

It also feels deeply personal, the kind of fragrance you wear for yourself, entering its sacred space. It adheres to the skin and doesn’t budge, remaining close.

Spell 125 is an experience more than any of your typical spritz-and-go perfumes. One that can only be fully appreciated by trying it for yourself.

Are you tempted to order a sample when Spell 125 becomes available?

N.B. Sample gifted to me by Liz Moores with no expectation of review.



Filed under Perfume Reviews

26 responses to “Spell 125 by Papillon Perfumes

  1. I was at the Glastonbury Free Festival 7.7.77. Up and tripping at 7 minutes past 7 of the aforementioned day. Michael Eavis brought us tea. This festival was not held at Worthy Farm, but just outside. Which has nothing to do with Spell 125. I wanna try it. Great piece of writing. xx


  2. YES!
    7/7 has a special meaning for me (it’s our wedding anniversary). And I love pine needles.
    But even without all that, the way you described it makes me want to try it. I will once samples become available.


    • The number 7 does seem to have significance for many.

      The pine needles are lower in the mix than the incense and ambergris after the opening but it’s worth experiencing either way.


  3. Lady Jane Grey

    How funny : it‘s my sotd – and then I found your review. Must be the spell…

    Now, Anubis is a favourite of mine. My armour, I find it truly spiritual. And I was curious whether Liz can top it. For me Spell125 works calming.
    And I started to experiment with the amounts – 2 big shots, or just a tiny 1 ? Every time different. It‘s a spell, I cannot frame it…
    It‘s my next full bottle.


  4. Hamamelis

    It just may bring me out of the perfume doldrums! So yes, I am tempted to order a sample. Does it remind you of OJ Woman because hemlock? Are you considering a full bottle? Lovely to read your post again, thank you.


    • Lovely to see you too!

      This perfume doesn’t remind me of OJ Woman because it’s much more of an ashy incense with a strong undercurrent of musk. Black hemlock is not the star the way it is in the OJ.

      I’ve sworn off full bottles now I’m working from home permanently but it is perfect for wearing alone indoors.


  5. PHWOAR! Spell 125 sounds fabulous Tara,
    Loved the way you wrote it too. “It has a mineral quality that is much quieter and more reverent than many incense fragrances but because of its weighty base, it also has more depth.” sounds divine.
    Portia xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have all her perfumes and will certainly try this one!


  7. Tara C

    Being an incense fiend and a huge Papillon fan, I ordered it blind. I have no doubt that I will love it. Thanks for the great review!


  8. Sylvia

    I’ve been looking forward to 7/7 when I can order a sample. I love incense in perfume and really enjoyed Anubis. Your review made it sound even more tempting!


  9. francescabelanger

    What a beautifully-written and evocative review, Tara. I bought Bengale Rouge without having sniffed it, and I’m going to do the same with this one. Sounds totally up my alley.


  10. This sounds so good. I hope i will get a sample of this


  11. bonkersvanessa

    Stunning review, T! I love and concur with every ‘facet’ of it, and “arrestingly elemental” is the perfect summary. Loved the burning paper image, like those Bois d’Arménie things? Like you, I am not a big fan of pine notes, but they are nicely tempered here. Great, great write up of a hauntingly atmospheric scent.


    • Thanks for taking the time to read and comment V.
      Nice to hear you concur with my take. It’s very different to the vast majority of fragrances out there so it was an enjoyable challenge to put it into words.


  12. Asali

    Your writing sure is a spell, tara! I’ll have to wait till the perfume somehow finds me, it’s just so complicated and expensive ordering samples, especailly when it’s just one or two which are of interest. The perfume sounds wonderful, though


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